Friday, 4 March 2011

Things that go bump in the night......

I have something to admit.

I have no pretenses of being big, tough or hard.

I can't play scary games.

There I said it.

It's not like I literally can't play them, of course I can. It's just when it comes down to it, I just can't stand the effect it has on my body.

My first experience with scary games came at a young age. Many years ago, when I was young, I used to spend every millisecond available tapping away on my good old ZX Spectrum. I had to spend all my available time, as it took that long to load up a sodding game! As with everyone at the time, we used to swap games at school. One day, one of the guys at school bought me in a game and told me to try it out. That game was 3D Monster Maze. I'd never heard of it, so I took it home, loaded it up and started to play.

If you have never played it, 3D Monster maze is a game that sees you dropped into randomly generated mazes in a first person style. Also in the maze is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. How it got there I don't know. Anyway, you have to attempt to get out of this maze, and dodge the T-Rex that's out to horrifically rip you into several bloody pieces. The game was pant-fillingly tense. As soon as you started a text prompt would come onscreen saying "REX LIES IN WAIT"! I would literally stop dead in my tracks, looking around to see if I could see Rex. No sign. I'd start to move again, taking small steps, bit by bit, and then the next horrific notice would flash up onscreen....."HE IS HUNTING.....FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING"! I started to go cold.....sweat forming on my young, terrified brow. Where? Where was he? Shaking so much I started to look like I was shitting ball-bearings, I would once again proceed around the maze, just for another text message to pop up saying "RUN HE IS BEHIND YOU"! AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!! I would let loose, pegging it around the maze as fast as I could, until i'd hit the enevitable dead and and i'd trun to see the toothy horror descent on my and tear me apart into a pixelly mess. I once panicked so badly at seeing Rex chasing me I hit the buttons on the keyboard so hard I reset the game. I used to shit myself so much, after one go i'd turn the bloody thing off for fear of having a heart attack at the age of 8.

Yeah, go on....laugh. Indeed it's about as graphically pleasing as a calculator. You can laugh now at the basic looks, and yeah, Rex does look like a Lego model of Barney the Dinosaur, but for a young me it was the scariest thing i'd ever seen.

It wasn't long before my second videogame related terror fest. Well, several years, but it was on the same system, the ZX Spectrum. That game was Aliens.

Tied in with the film, which of course I hadn't seen, this was another game that was shared about at secondary school. Based on the events of the movie, it featured several distinct sections. The first section, which blew me away at the time, was guiding the dropship down to the surface of LV-426, the planet in the film. Once dropping down, the game through you into lots of different scenarios, and two of them scared me to buggery.

The first was one where you controlled Ripley. From memory, you were stationed on the right of the screen, and hordes of aliens would run at you from the left, trying to grab hostages...I think. You had to scare them away by shooting out your flamer, which would then shoot them back to the other side of the screen. It was tense and fear inducing, but this wasn't the bit that scared me.

On no. That bent went to one of the mid sections of the game. It sees you running around in the facility of the colony, playing as several members of the team. Shown in a first person perspective, you flick from character to character hunting down the alien menace. Shown from the console of the team commander, it replays the scene where you can see the mounted camera view of the team members. You patrol about, keeping your eyes peeled for any bugs, blowing them away when you see em. It was scary, but now as scary as what was to come. You see, all the characters are active at the same point, so you could be controlling Vasquez, but then you'll notice Hudson's energy bar going down. You had to then hit a button to go to Hudson's point of view, kill your attackers and continue. This, as time went on, saw you flicking from character to character, as wave after wave of aliens attacked your team. It was so mind-bendingly frenetic and scary that by the end I just gave up, unable to cope with the horror any more.

Again, it looks primitive by todays standards, but by god I thought it was the epitome of terror!

So I started dodging scary games. I just wouldn't play them. Admittedly during the 8-bit and 16-bit era, there wasn't a whole lot of horror games out there....unless of course you include "Rise of the Robots" was scary just how bad that game was.

So my next experience of true terror was, of course....Silent Hill.

The first game had literally just started and I was shitting bricks. The crackle of the radio was enough to get my heart beating faster than a Hummingbirds. Wandering around this misty town was almost like a form of torture for me, and as soon as the skinless babies, flying demons as demonic nurses started to pop up that was it....about half way through I abandoned the game....that's right....i've never finished it. Then, the second game arrived, heralding in horror on the PS2, and it had me in bits. I was sharing a house at the time with a guy called Gav, and he had purchased the game. I sat watching him start it, and we shared gameplay duties. After a while of him playing and me watching dripping with cold sweat, he handed my the pad. I can't remember the actual details (I think my subconcious mind has blocked it out) but the bit I was playing had me in a house, and after a bit of exploration, a cut scene kicked in. That cut scene had my arse almost chewing through my pants!

This is that cut scene.

I don't actually know what's going on, as I was so scared I was just looking......wide eyed....staring at what was unfolding. What is he doing? Why is he doing it? What the living fuck are those things he's trying to play hide the sausage with? At that very moment, I WAS the character. When he went into the cupboard that was me! I wanted to hide away, I didn't want to look at what was happening before me, but the sick, perverted side of my brain made me watch. I continued with the game for about ten minutes before handing controls back. That cut scene has stayed in my mind, etched into my brain like Pyramid head himself cut it in there with a blunt and bloodied razor blade. I did try some of the other Silent hill games, but literally an hour or so into each of them something happened that made me just reach over and turn it off.

The next game to really give me the shakes was Doom 3. I loved the original Doom games, and the odd scream or groan from the enemies made me jump. But that was nothing compared to the sheer heart-attack inducing Doom 3. Doom 3 has had it's critics, namely the people that bitch that you have to swap from weapons to your torch to see what's going on. It's about the same as moaning that you have to pull the trigger to shoot your weapon. Now, i've never been lucky enough to be marooned on a Martian space station while the denizens of Hell are literally bent on flaying the skin from my body whilst parading around using my face as a mask, but i'd imagine that looking into a dark corridor with a torch, and upon seeing something you swap over to a gun and kill it is probably a natural way of doing things....but anyway, I digress.

The game was tense. Really, really tense. Every step, every turn of a corner, every door that I went through was an exercise in pant control. Demons teleporting in from left right and centre, baby-faced demonic cherubs flapping about, huge monsters bursting out of the floor and attempting to bugger you, it was all as scary as shit. But those weren't the bits that scared me. Oh no. It was the little incidental things that got me going. Walking down a corridor and having the lights turn off, a grate dropping from the ceiling and NOTHING coming out of it....the little moans, groans, was fucking hair shredding!

Just look at this vid. Go to about the 3.30 mark for a minute, and then to the 5.30 mark.....i'm shivering again just watching them.

The difference is with Doom 3 is that I actually finished it. I think the fact that it looked a million dollars made me go on, but every single minute of the game was like re-enacting the famous scene in Clockwork Orange where Malcolm MacDowell is forced to watch that video with his eyes pinned open. I think I aged by ten years playing that game.

So....after Doom 3 there was no more scares for me. Non. Never played any other Silent Hill games, or the Fatal Frame Series, the Siren games, F.E.A.R,...nothing. I just would not go anywhere near them. List any horror genre type game release in recent years and I guarantee I haven't played then. Yes.......that included Dead Space.

Now the round about reason that i'm posting all this dribble is Dead Space. I've had a few readers mail me to see if i'm going to do a review on Dead Space 2. And in shame, i've had to tell them that I haven't even done the first one. I own the game, i've played the game, but as memory serves i've managed to do the first chapter before I gave up. Take every horror game that i've ever played, combine it into a great looking/sounding package and that pretty much sums up Dead Space for me. I had to play it, in the day, with the lights on, after looking under the bed and telling the neighbours that if they hear horrific screams of panic from my house it's just me playing Dead Space.

My first thoughts when playing it were "why the fuck would anyone want to play this for fun?". Dead Space and fun do not go hand in hand. Maybe in the same way humans will seek out the most terrifying roller coasters to give them a thrill, that's the only reason why I can see that people would play Dead Space. Why the hell you would want to take part in something that's pretty much guaranteed to make you literally shit your pants beggars belief.

So anyway. To the crux of my post. I'm going to go through and play Dead Space. The second game is meant to be absolutely amazing, and I feel like i'm missing out on something. So, i'm going to go through and replay Dead Space tight from the start, and i'm not going to finish until I see the end credits roll. Even thinking about this task is giving me goosebumps, but i've fished out the game, and it's sitting....staring at me.....with it's twinkly deformed eye.....daring me to take up this challenge.

So. Starting from Early next week, i'll be posting up my progress. I'll record all the footage as i'm going through, and either do a commentary over the top after the session, or I'll try to work out how to do a running commentary as i'm playing, just so you can hear me squeal like a little bitch at anything that moves.

Now i'm expecting your support with this guys. I want word of encouragement, I want you to tell me to soldier on if i'm flailing, and of course if I get too stuck give me some help. I'm determined to get through this hurdle of shitting myself at a bunch of rendered polygons on screen, as i'm sure i'm missing out on some good horror games out there.

I'll post up the first video as soon as it's done.

When most people think of fear and horror, they think of the colour red.

When I think of fear and horror, that colour is a liquid brown.

Wish me luck.


  1. 3D Monster Maze was a ZX81 game, not a Spectrum game.

  2. I think you're right...the sands of time have once more faded my vision. I knew it was a Spectrum something or fact I still have the ZX81....silver paper printer and all.

    Thanks for the mind rattle my friend. I think my love for the rubber-keyed 48k clouded my memory.

  3. Dude... started to read through the Monster Maze section and I was screaming inside "... but what about Aliens, that made me poop myself as a junior gamer" and then you beat me too it. :)

    From my part your only omission would be Dungeon Master on the ST, Amiga and later Sega megadrive (?), it may have been the sleep deprevation caused by 12 hours sessions of leveling up, but mummies appearing from round darkened corners really put the willies up me worse than when that bloated corpse floats out of the wrecked boat in Jaws.... I fuckin' hate that bit... gets me EVERY fuckin' time.... EVERY TIME.

    I still haven't finished Silient Hill 2, I'd rather put that video dating tape on from the girl in Ringu....

  4. I was too poor to have an Amiga or ST. Never played that game either....sounds like I didn't miss anything....he he.

    Yeah Silent Hill 2 is a real bummer. I know it's probably an amazing game....there's just no pleasure in playing a game that you know you'll end up crapping yourself over and making your rectum prolapse!